WRC A FULL 2014
MIXED EMOTIONS FOR M-SPORT
7 June 2014
M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans completed an eventful second day of Rally Italia Sardegna in a highly respectable sixth place. Unfortunately, there was something of a different story for his teammate Mikko Hirvonen. Having led the rally in its early phase, the Finn’s hopes of success were dashed as his Ford Fiesta RS WRC became engulfed in flames on the liaison between SS3 and SS4.
Having been unleashed by team principal Malcolm Wilson, Evans was keen to show that he could challenge the championship’s more experienced drivers whilst continuing to develop his skills within the FIA World Rally Championship’s top class. Keeping in touch with the leaders over the morning loop, the Welshman proved just that.
Despite struggling to find a consistent rhythm amidst the varying grip levels, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt held their own. Setting a string of competitive times over the morning loop, the Brits climbed as high as fifth overall before a more cautious approach over a rutted second pass dropped them back to sixth.
With just over 30 seconds separating Evans’ Fiesta RS WRC from the top-three, there remains all to play for and the M-Sport man has the potential to couple his clear progression with another strong result.
Hirvonen’s rally came to a heart-breaking end on the liaison between SS3 and SS4 when his Fiesta became overwhelmed by flames. Most importantly, both he and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen were unharmed in the incident, but despite their best efforts they could not save their car from the blaze.
The news that the pairing would take no further part in this weekend’s event came as a bitter disappointment to the entire M-Sport team who will subsequently take the remains of the car back to their base in Northern England for a thorough investigation. Rally Italia had long been a favoured hunting ground of the Finn and after taking an early lead on last night’s Super Special Hirvonen had looked on course to battle for the top positions.
Elfyn Evans (6th) said:
“We had a clean enough run through this afternoon’s stages. We had a puncture on SS7 but I don’t think it cost us too much in the grand scheme of things.
“We’re currently in what is effectively the same position as last year, but in terms of time it’s a massive jump forward compared to where we were 12 months ago; and to be honest it’s a massive jump forward compared to where we were earlier this year too.
“We’re not in a position where we want to do more for the moment, but it’s a really good stepping stone and if we find ourselves in a position where we do want to do more, then we’ll see how it goes.”
Mikko Hirvonen (DNF) said:
“I have no idea what happened and I don’t think we are ever going to find out. It was really strange. Straight after the stage [SS3] everything was OK and operating as it should. We stopped, took our HANS and helmet off, checked all the tyre pressures, had the usual look around the car and everything was fine.
“After we set off again, the car caught fire. We smelt the smoke and as I looked back the rear-right corner was covered in flames. We stopped straight away but they were already over the roof. I managed to empty three fire extinguishers but it didn’t do anything to calm the blaze. There was nothing we could do to save the car.”
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Obviously we’re all relieved that Mikko [Hirvonen] and Jarmo [Lehtinen] are both OK after today. The car has been completely destroyed and there is nothing to be rescued which is a big blow to the team. We’re still waiting to get the car back, but having spoken with Mikko it seems to have started somewhere towards the right-rear wheel which is something we do not really understand. There’ll be a thorough investigation back at Dovenby Hall to work out exactly what happened, but for now the main thing is that both Mikko and Jarmo are OK.
“We’ve seen a really strong day from Elfyn [Evans] – his best performance to date at less than 0.5 seconds / kilometre off the fastest competitor. He’s comfortable at the speed he’s running which is very encouraging for the season ahead. I’ve been very impressed with the progress he has made and he just needs to continue as he has today.”
AFTER DAY TWO OF RALLY ITALIA
RESULTS AFTER SS9
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